Sunday, June 2, 2013

Slow and Low BBQ Bistro

Nashville Restaurants and Food
Slow and Low BBQ Bistro
333 54th Avenue North

The Low and Slow BBQ Bistro folks have been satisfying fans with a rolling barbecue operation for several years now. The mobile kitchen/truck location was in an industrial parking lot near the interstate downtown, never an area that one would want to have a restaurant. The partners, Trey and Herman Southerland and Burke Mahling, found a ready-made spot to open a brick and mortar restaurant in a west side building formerly occupied by Stonehouse Q. It sits just off of Charlotte on 54th Avenue. It was built roadhouse-style for the proper barbecue join t feel and Slow and Low has merely updated the d├ęcor, which is all it really needed. The fixation of these barbecue competition veterans is clearly the meat- Slow and Low BBQ Bistro kicks serious pork butt. The sides are another matter.

The sampling life is tough for a food blogger. You must regularly look like a pig (no pun intended, but especially macabre), when you order a massive $16 combo plate. It’s a generous serving of four of your choice of meats. The pulled pork features a light smoke and juicy meat. The bark bits spotlight a peppery rub that is well balanced. You’ll find a version of that rub highlighting the awesome beef brisket, some of the juiciest in town. The smoked wings are grilled to a light char and then flash fried. They’re excellent served naked. I would suggest the sauce on the side to really enjoy the flavor. Ribs are perhaps the highlight- thick, juicy baby-backs basted in Slow and Low mild barbecue sauce. The owners let the fat run in all of the cuts, giving everything extra flavor and the customer greasy fingers. Some folks may shy away from that, but this Meat Eater prefers a bit of grease to his bbq.

The sides don’t live up to the quality of that smoked meat. Cornbread pancakes are much too salty on the first outing and still fairly salty the second time. Mac and cheese is a bit runny and lacking real flavor. Sweet mayo-based slaw is uninspired. The Carolina vinegar sauce is incredibly sour, perhaps too much so for my palate. The tomato based hot sauce is sweet with a nice little kick.

I sample the smoked chicken in a more restrained second visit. It’s smoky and moist meat, satisfying, but without the flavor of the pork and beef. The sides still don’t live up to the barbecue on the second lunch. Potato salad is lackluster and under seasoned, leaving a ho hum dish despite the quality purple potatoes. The tomato based beans are the best of the bunch- a little tangy and a little spicy. It’s interesting to me that usually the difference between great sides and mediocre ones is the seasoning. It wouldn’t take much to punch these side dishes up a bit with herbs and creative seasoning.

Service is quick and smiling. While the prices are inching to the high side for barbecue, you get a decent meal for the price. I’d come back for the brisket, ribs and smoked wings any day. I paid $13 with tax and tip and a drink for the chicken plate and $18 with tip for that monster four meat feast.

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